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Associate Spotlight: Dr. David Dacombe

Posted Jul 13th, 2022 in 2022, spotlights, the wire

This month we shine the spotlight on Dr. David Dacombe, Associate Dentist at Odyssey Dental Care in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We discuss what he finds most rewarding about practicing dentistry, his accomplishments with his team members, and how excellence in patient care is more than just providing treatment.

Tell me about your career path, from when you started practicing dentistry to where you are today?

I was one of the few kids that truly enjoyed my dental appointments, and not just because I got to miss school! I found it exciting, and those experiences sparked a curiosity in me to pursue dentistry as a career. Being a dental student was difficult but well worth the effort. I was accepted into the University of Manitoba Faculty of Dentistry in 2011 and graduated in 2015. I immediately started working here at Odyssey Dental, the office where I was previously a patient.

What challenges did you face getting started in your career?

At the start of my career managing the volume of patients at a busy practice was a challenge. At school there was a lot of time provided for straightforward procedures, which isn't practical in a private practice setting. Learning how to manage the schedule while maintaining the highest quality patient care was essential in developing into the dentist I am today. I'm forever thankful for Dr. Jerry Baluta's mentorship along the way.

What do you find most rewarding about practicing dentistry?

Working with a new patient who isn’t confident or doesn’t smile due to the state of their dentition, or who is terrified due to a previous bad experience, can be very rewarding. Transitioning them into a patient who regularly returns for recall appointments with excitement, trust, and a big smile is very satisfying. Having patients who were previously terrified of starting their root canal procedure fall asleep in the chair and having to wake them up when it's over, is a great feeling. It is rewarding to see my anxious patients finally at peace. I feel blessed to be a part of their oral and mental health journey. I'm also very thankful that this career as an Associate dentist allows me to have quality time with my family. I need to be both a husband and father regularly present at home, and I appreciate having a schedule that allows me to do that.

What does excellence in patient care mean to you?

This involves listening to concerns and fears, calmly providing quality solutions to their issues, and getting to know them individually. It's essential they know I'm on their side and willing to work with them as an equal. This reduces their fear of seeing the "dentist" as they understand I'm just a regular person who knows how to help them. Excellence in patient care is also having front-end staff who welcome patients with a smile and answer any scheduling or financial questions. My dental assistant genuinely cares for the patient's well-being, prepares them for the scheduled treatment, and works alongside me with care, grace, and patience. Our hygienists take the time to discuss the status of the patient's oral health and show them how things have improved throughout their time at the office. The work I do has to stand the test of time. Without my dental team members, excellence in patient care is impossible.

Of all your accomplishments, what are you most proud of? What do you plan to accomplish next?

It has been a privilege to have developed such a solid patient base over the last seven years. It has been so rewarding seeing patients return for regular recalls when they were previously terrified to walk through the door. As a result, it has been wonderful to see new patients referred by those who found comfort at Odyssey. It takes many good experiences to make up for one bad one. I'm proud to be a part of that journey. Again, this accomplishment is shared with the rest of the dental team because of their great work and contribution to the process.

What advice do you have for emerging dentists?

During dental school, I was concerned with the immense debt that was accumulating, and I expressed those concerns to one of my trusted instructors. She said one of the wisest things I will never forget: focus my career on caring for my patients wholeheartedly, putting their needs ahead of mine, striving to provide the best care I possibly can by always being willing to learn, and humbled when I inevitably make mistakes. She said I will never have to worry about money if I can do that – and she was right. Also, find ways to give back to your community and those in need, both within and outside your practice.

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